Friday, April 13, 2007

Who Are Public Agency Investigators Protecting: The Neglected Elder Or The Perpetrator of The Neglect?

Post courtesy of attorney Felicia Curran at

An elder named Mary Schneider died in San Francisco in May 2006. Two of her care givers went on trial this month on charges of criminally neglecting her, but the most shocking aspect of the case related to someone who wasn’t on trial, but should have been, the San Francisco Adult Protective Agency. That’s the public agency responsible for investigating complaints of elder abuse for elders who are not living in a long term care facility. Mrs. Schneider, a 91 year old bedridden resident of a retirement hotel in San Francisco, “died in agony and neglect, suffering horrific bedsores”after APS failed to investigate her care, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Adult Protective Services responded by sending social worker Andrea Glass to check in on Mary. Glass surveyed the room, and to all appearances Mary appeared to have "nice hair, nice nails, and a nice room." When Glass asked the care giver about the bed sores, the care giver responded, “I would never do anything like that.” The care giver’s denial was good enough for Andrea Glass, and off she went without looking at Mary’s body or following up with her doctor.

Mary herself was unable to speak on her own behalf and ask for Glass’s help.In fact, Mary was suffering from extremely advanced bed sores, which apparently only were detected some 3 weeks later after her death. The care giver was criminally prosecuted, but the District Attorney, Elliot Beckelman, also reamed the Adult Protective Services investigator, telling the jury, “You know that’s outrageous, on a call for bedsores, not to look at the body. She was taken in by the visuals . . . That’s lazy.”

Adult Protective Services is not the only public agency that falls down on the job of protecting elders. The California Department of Health Services and Department of Social Services - the state agencies in charge of nursing homes and assisted living facilities – have investigators who often take the word of the nursing home or the rest home against the family or resident. Too often all it takes for the nursing home to get off the hook for neglect is for the nursing home administrator to simply deny it ever happened. Can you or I get out of a traffic ticket simply by denying it ever happened? Can a bank robber walk away simply by telling the police officer he didn't do it? Why should it be any different for someone suspected of elder abuse?

In order to answer your question, attorney Felicia Curran I can only speak from my experience with elder abuse, and in my opinion the Public Investigators protect the Perpetrators more than they protect the victims, just take one look at the paper trail of destruction left behind, and the numerous complaints that were filed on Clara G. Fernandez behalf when she was unlawfully separated from her husband and all her assets taken over.

Clara was isolated from everything she knew under the guise of caring for her, when Clara made arrangements to be picked up and brought home she was physically restrained and kept medicated right up to the point three (3) months later when Clara was left alone, sedated in a hotel room, fell and became totally incapacitated.

Florida DCF District #14 Director Mr. James Grible came to Clara's rescue and wrote the State attorney's office recommending that action be taken, however Mr. Grible's recommendations were buried under a blanket of confidentiality, and his recommendations were thus ignored protecting the perpetrators in the horrific case of elder abuse so well documented .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts Ray.

Felicia Curran
Boxer & Gerson, LLP
300 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 500
Oakland CA 94612
ph: 510-835-8870